Jerusalem Police Reject Gay Pride Parade Route

Parade organizers plan to march to Knesset to honor those who were murdered at the Bar Noar gay center in Tel Aviv last summer.

The Jerusalem Open House organization is launching its annual Gay Pride parade on July 29, but the Jerusalem police have rejected the suggested route of the parade, which was to culminate at the Knesset building where a rally was to be held.

Israeli gay pride marchers in Jerusalem, June 25, 2009

The organization wanted to commemorate the memory of those who were murdered at the Bar Noar gay teen center in Tel Aviv last summer, hence relocating the parade from the city's center to the Knesset building area.

Attorney Nira Uziel wrote in a letter to the police on Thursday that if the route the organization seeks is not approved, they will petition the High Court of Justice on the matter. The letter indicates that the police rejected the route because it passes near an ultra-Orthodox yeshiva on Bezalel Street.

The police have apparently offered the organization an alternate route near Gan Hapa'amon, where previous parades have been held.

"The Jerusalem Police's decision in essence prevents the Jerusalem Open House and the gay community in Israel from marching in the center of Jerusalem, as is done in all the rest of Israel's major cities, along a publicly visible route that is not hidden from the eyes of the public," Uziel wrote.

"The requested route does not pass through any areas that are sensitive to the nature of the parade. In this decision, the police severely violate the freedom of speech and the right to march. The decision isn't logical, isn't proportional and is not based on relevant arguments, as required by law," she added.

"It is time to return the Jerusalem Gay Pride parade to its rightful place, as a part of the fertile Jerusalemite fabric of life."

The head of the Jerusalem Open House said in response to the police decision that "the most obvious place to protest against the ongoing discrimination and incitement against gays, lesbians and transsexuals in Israel is the Knesset. The police's bizarre refusal to allow us to hold the event is both illegal and dangerous. The police would be better off investing its resources in finding the [Bar Noar] killer rather than violating the gay community's freedom of speech."